Harmless Teasing, Flirting, or Bullying?

We need to change how we view harmless “teasing” or “flirting” on the playground. Have you ever heard, “Boys will be boys” and “He’s just flirting”? “He pulled your hair? He must like you, boys pick on you when they like you”. As adults, we are telling our children these behaviors are ok. Education within elementary, middle, and high school regarding healthy relationships and boundaries are paramount in these very impressionable years.

Based on the personality and temperament of the child, a boy/girl teasing by pulling one’s hair, etc. may OR may not affect them. Everyone child is different. We’ve also accepted that name calling and teasing on the playground is ok. Thankfully, schools are bringing education and attention to bullying. However, when I was younger, it was seen as harmless play.

I’ll never forget being in elementary school, being the shortest girl at recess and being teased for such. Although, I was commonly a strong willed and vocal child, in those moments, I felt vulnerable. All of my friends heard the boy tease me, everyone stared, some kids laughed, while others told me to ignore him.

Kids are often teased for differences or jealousies. I know this may seem like a small issue. However, it can be a major issue to a child. For me, I didn’t like being the shortest in my class, but there was NOTHING I could do to change that. I felt vulnerable, exposed, and helpless.

At home, I cried for hours due to the teasing. Luckily, I have an amazing mom. She sat down with me and provided the support I needed. As my mother always does, she reframed the situation. She told me a true story of a missionary (Amy Carmichael) who thought her brown eyes were ugly and every day prayed for blue eyes. Amy’s mother, told her that God had blessed her with brown eyes and one day they would be her saving grace. Years later, Amy became a missionary in a country where it was very dangerous to teach the bible. Due to Amy having dark eyes, dark hair, she was able to blend in with the people and was not seen as a threat. She was able to take the bible to these people to whom she was dedicated to serve, love, and share the gospel of Jesus.

At a young age, she couldn’t see that, just like me. This was my mother’s way of telling me, I was special in my own way and God could and would use me, just like Amy.

Please do not misunderstand that I am minimizing teasing/bullying, I am not. I still believe this had a profound impact on me. The teasing went on for quite a while. I was constantly embarrassed, upset, and vulnerable each time it occurred.

As an adult, I look back on this as a learning experience. Society should not tolerate bullying and education at a very young age is key to changing attitudes on the subject. However, I feel blessed to have supportive parents who loved me and took time to tell me I was special, make me feel heard, and encouraging me to not cause others to feel the pain, embarrassment, and shame I felt.

For more information on facts, statistics, education, and laws against bullying, got to: https://www.stopbullying.gov/

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